Together We Can: Ammar Campa-Najjar for Congress

Why I’m Running

Many of us are still processing the 2016 presidential election, a day that shocked the world. But as I told the Washington Post, America’s destiny has never been at the mercy of one person. It’s always been about all of us, placing our mortal hands on the arc of history and bending it slowly, sometimes too slowly, towards justice once again.

This is a “where were you?” moment for America. I want to be able to look my children in the eyes someday and say, “I was fighting for your futures when the odds were against us.” That’s why today, I want you to be the first to know: I’m running for Congress.

I’m running for those who no longer believe in the American dream or comebacks. Too many people feel like their hopes, dreams and even their lives don’t matter. They no longer believe in the alchemy of America, a place where you can turn your pain into purpose.

I’m running because our district deserves more trustworthy leadership than Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr., who is currently under criminal investigation. His campaign’s violation of the law is so criminal that his own party — the Trump Administration — is leading the investigation. We deserve better.

But I’m not just running against Duncan Hunter, I’m running for the community in District 50 that helped raise me, for the teachers who taught me to believe in myself, and for the thousands of people in San Diego, Temecula and Riverside who said “Yes We Can” in 2008 and trusted me to lead our local movement in 2012.

I’m running for the people who lifted me up and sent me — a skinny community organizer with a funny name — to the White House in 2013. You helped me achieve my dreams, now I’m going to fight for yours.

10 Letters

When you sent me to serve in the Executive Office of the President, I read hundreds of your letters every day. Each night, the president would read 10 of those letters. Some were uplifting, but many of them were tragically heart breaking — struggles better left imagined than described.

I heard about what wakes you up in the morning, and keeps you up at night: Am I one sickness away from losing my home? I haven’t had a raise in years and my family is barely making it paycheck to paycheck, what if something happens to me? Am I going to have to miss another birthday or Christmas with my children just to put food on the table and clothes on their backs? Will I ever be able to save enough to put my kids through school and retire with dignity? Can we dream the American dream, or are we going to spend the next 4 or 8 years living a nightmare?

I read those kinds of stories with tears in my eyes, thinking about my single mom. Abigail Campa, the modest Catholic daughter of an orphaned migrant farm worker, showed me through a divorce, a broken heart, being broke, different jobs — including working as a family doctor’s receptionist, applying to work at Wal-Mart in her 50s, and eventually working in real estate — that you can dust yourself off and start again. She showed me there’s dignity in a hard day’s work, and that your work doesn’t define you, it reveals you.

My mother repeatedly inconvenienced her life for mine, whether it was choosing to live in a war zone just so her boys could have their father or interrupting her work to drive me home from school and to soccer games, church and band practice. Her pain was turned into purpose, to show her children all true love can do.

So yes, I still believe America is a place where you can pursue the American dream and help your children chase theirs. I still believe in an America where a Latino-Arab American can run for congress in the Trump era.

Together We Win

Five years ago, before many of you felt the burn, you were fired up and ready to go. California’s progressive movement was in full force back then, thousands of you volunteered your labor and love in advocacy of a common cause: reelecting President Obama.

Building and leading an unstoppable grassroots movement in San Diego County was the most emboldening experience of my life. Together, we defended the middle class and fought for affordable healthcare, engaged hundreds of thousands of voters across the country, and helped deliver a historic victory on Election Day. The campaign trail taught me a fundamentally American lesson, together we win.

The people behind our movement spoke with a unified voice, an American voice, that was heard all the way in Washington. They’re the reason I was called on to serve in the White House.

So I made a promise: I’d go to Washington, grow both personally and professionally, then come back and give back to the people who raised me, lifted me up, and gave me the opportunity to serve my country.

What We’re Up Against

I’m ready to step up and step in and be your voice in Washington again, if you’ll be my voice on Election Day.

Right now, California’s 50th Congressional District is represented by Duncan Hunter Jr. He’s currently under criminal investigation for spending tens of thousands of dollars on personal expenses and favors for his special interest friends.

It gets me so mad to think Duncan Hunter has been lining his pockets with campaign funds while so many of you haven’t had a raise in years. People have lost their homes, lost their jobs, lost their livelihoods and are on the verge of losing their healthcare, and he’s spending tens of thousands of campaign dollars on video games, jewelry, and vacations. He’s betrayed the trust of his supporters and made a national embarrassment of our district.

What We’re Fighting For

That’s how Duncan is spending his time in Washington, now let me tell you how I’ve spent my time in Washington:

  • Serving in the Obama White House, relaying the American people’s concerns from jobs to healthcare to the president;
  • Advocating for American small business owners at the US Hispanic chamber of commerce;
  • Fighting for the American worker and helping people punch their ticket to the middle class at the Department of Labor;
  • Working with the ACLU to bring back our nation’s deported military veterans who were honorably discharged then dishonorably deported.

I’m ready to represent my community in Washington, because I already have.

After listening, learning, and leading alongside some of the most accomplished public servants of our time, I’m ready to run for Congress and take the fight to Duncan Hunter. But I’ll need your help. Would you help me get this campaign off the ground?

DEM Priorities

If elected, I’ll continue fighting for working families, small business owners, and our veterans. My priorities are focused on addressing the most urgent challenges of our time and our district, I call them DEM priorities: Defend, Empower, Modernize.

To learn more about the DEM priorities, visit: https://medium.com/@ammarcampanajjar/ammars-dem-priorities-66d136a793bf

Fighting Economic Injustice

I’m proud of the work my colleagues and I did under President Obama’s leadership. Together, we implemented programs and policies that led to the most successful economic recovery in history. I can honestly say we left it all on the field, but there still remains a lot of undeniable, unfinished work ahead.

Here are the facts: We lost 5 million jobs during the Great Recession and created almost 16 million jobs since 2010, so roughly eleven million more jobs exist today compared to late 2007. Hispanics secured more than half of those net new jobs. Other minority groups also gained millions more jobs than they lost during the recession. But white workers, who account for 78 percent of the labor force, lost over 700,000 net jobs over the nine years. This isn’t fair.

At the same time, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest poverty rate (30%), followed by African Americans (27%), Hispanics (26%), and whites (10%). This also isn’t fair.

I have some ideas on how our district can address these economic injustices, and together we can.

Unstoppable We

My name might be on the ballot, but elections aren’t about candidates. They’re about you and me, becoming an unstoppable we.

If you’re looking for another cynical politician, don’t vote for me. I’d rather lose by trying to explore every opportunity to unite this country, than win by exploiting every opportunity to divide it.

I know we live in divided times, but I remain hopeful that we can overcome shared challenges together. Through every trial and every triumph, Americans have always found a way to come together in the end. We need to break down barriers and swing open the doors of opportunity, long enough and wide enough, so that our entire country can walk through and towards America’s best days.

It’s time to bring people back together, pave a path toward a unified future and show how truly indivisible we are. We need to fight for progress and win again, and together we can.

I’m Ammar Campa-Najjar, and I’m running for Congress.